Lunch is over and you sit at your desk ready to bang out the report that is due in two hours.  Just before you really get going, you notice that stack of papers that need filing.  And hey, did your best friend ever comment on the cat picture you posted?  You never did check to see who RSVP’d to the company party.  What if you moved closer to work?  How much gas would that save?  You should do the math.  Is your dog online shopping while you’re at work?  What’s that noise in the hallway?  Your boss might be upset with you.  There were all those passive aggressive texts.  And what ever happened with your co-worker’s promotion?  Do bats sneeze?

Two hours later, your report has fallen by the wayside and your brain has entertained a litany of items that seem important but are completely irrelevant to the task at hand.  You’ve fallen down the mental rabbit hole of things you forgot to check on, look up or ponder altogether.  Getting back on track can be nearly impossible.  Even if you are able to focus long enough to start work, the chances of being derailed again are pretty high.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has entered the common vernacular as a catch-all for having a short attention span, inability to focus and difficulty following instructions.  For those afflicted with ADHD, the brain is on a never-ending treadmill of distractions, interruptions, and diversions.

Genetics are responsible for about 75% of reported cases of ADHD.  Environmental issues can influence ADHD in the form of food allergies, exposures to substances (such as tobacco) in utero, and early childhood infections.

Neurologically speaking, the areas of the brain responsible for ADHD are still in question.  The leading theory is that frontal lobe dysfunction causes behaviors generally recognized as hallmarks of ADHD.  Differences in neurotransmitter levels are also thought be responsible for “low arousal.”  A person with low arousal will require more stimuli than one without.

Another popular theory is that persons suffering from ADHD are deficient in “executive functions.”  Executive functions are exactly what they sound like – the ability to control, regulate and govern daily tasks.  Research continues in order to determine the causes of ADHD as well as the best course of treatment.

The prognosis of children diagnosed with ADHD improves as they age.  Cognitive behavioral therapy coupled with pharmaceutical treatment generally improves functionality and adjustment.  Even without treatment, adults with ADHD often discover coping mechanisms to compensate for their lack of attention or hyperactivity.

If the feeling of your brain ‘running faster than you’ is familiar then you may want to consider expressing your concerns to your physician, even if you’re an adult.  Spend a week or two creating a list of times when you felt an inability to focus or even a frustration with your own impulsiveness.  Your physician should be able to draw from your list an appropriate strategy to help your brain keep pace with your day.

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